Back to School Week 1: The Test

Sermon Transcript


Back to school. It’s that time of year when we all do whatever we can to prepare. We hit the sales, stock up on all the supplies and make sure we are equipped for the next challenge life is about to throw at us. But are we sure we have everything we need? Maybe our backpacks are still missing something.

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Well, good morning to everybody and good morning, also, to all those who watch via the mobile app and the internet. I want to just take a moment and brag on the creative team that puts together the bumpers. The creative team puts together all the stuff up here. The staff. They even put an apple up here. I mean, this is a great group. I want to say this because I think, sometimes — I think you maybe know this, but I want to make sure that you do know this. We put a lot of time and effort when we do a series that these are not just something that like, last night, we decided, “Hey, this would be a great idea.” These are things that are planned in advance because what we try to do is we look at the calendar and we say, “What are people dealing with at different times during the calendar?” so that we can try to say things and talk about biblical things that are right in the moment that are in your life because I want you to come here to Grace and to get equipped and to learn how to walk out your faith, and to ultimately have a greater relationship with Jesus in everything that you do.

So, we knew, coming out of Colossians, that everybody was going to be going back to school. So, we thought, “How can we take that?” Even my wife was at home and she’s like, “How in the world are you going to preach on ‘back to school?’” You know? And I said, “Just wait. You’ll see. It’s all cool.” Because, listen, everybody knows, even if you don’t have children, if you don’t have any grandchildren, here’s the way it works: We all know. Going back to school, we all know it’s that time because what happens is you’ve been getting up for the last three months at eight or nine o’clock in the morning. Maybe you like to go to The Broken Egg, or maybe you like to go to Dunkin’ Donuts. Whatever. You get in your car. You cruise down University, get on I-75, go to Fruitville. It takes about five minutes and life is good and everything’s perfect. It might have been a Monday, it might have been a Tuesday, it might have been a Thursday, but one morning you got up, you got in your car, you pulled out and you’re like, “Whoa. Where did all this traffic come from?”

Right? And then you go, “Oh! There’s the school busses and the return of the minivans. I know what’s going on.” So, you’re there and you’re trying to be a Christian, but it’s like that five-minute trip is now thirty minutes and you’re getting frustrated. And the kid in front of you that’s got his face in the window, picking his nose and laughing at you, you’re going, “Go!” And the mom in the minivan, the light’s turning yellow to red and you’re like, “Go! Go! Go!”

You know? And they didn’t go. So then, you fly around that minivan, and as you fly around that minivan, all of a sudden, God, in a moment, speaks to you and you realize, “I’ve got a Grace Community Church bumper sticker on the back of my car.”

Then you roll down the window and go, “No, no, no. This? I was listening to Chris Tomlin and I was praising the Lord. That was what that was. And I’m praying for your children and the nose-picker and all that stuff. I love you all. God bless you.”

And then off you go. Right? So, we all know that happens. But if you’re a mom and a dad with kids, going back to school is like getting delivered from Egyptian bondage. It’s incredible. In fact, there was a picture taken of a local family here in Lakewood Ranch as their kid got on the school bus. Like, “Yes!” Mimosas and everything. You know? And as we were sort of thinking about this and whatever, I was on the computer doing stuff, trying to figure out, “Are there some cool quotes or some neat things that we could look at?” This one thing kept coming up over and over again. It’s like the funniest back to school educational quote ever. I was like, “I’ve just got to say it.” It doesn’t have anything to do with God. It’s just funny.

“My dad could always find the bright side. Whenever I brought my report card home from school, he’d say, ‘Well, at least I know you didn’t cheat.’”

Right? Great stuff. So, what we’re going to do — and this is how we’re going to do this series — is we’re going to take a little bit of a lighthearted look at some of the things that we know about school, and then we’re going to take it, have some fun, but then we’re going to look at a really good biblical passage or some Scriptures. I promise you the take-homes and the application in this particular series is going to be incredible. Next week is — let’s see. What’s next week? Next week is Extra Credit, the following week is Parent/Teacher Conference, and then the following one is Class Dismissed. So, we’ve got some really cool things to talk about. In fact, the Parent/Teacher Conference thing, at this point, at least, I’ve convinced my wife to join me up here on stage and to do it together. We’re going to talk about raising godly children. Anyway, that’s not your cue to miss that weekend. You know? You need to be here. You need to be here.

Anyway, we’ve got some really cool stuff to look at. This weekend, I want to talk to you about something that, man, for me at least, in school — it wasn’t maybe later on in college and seminary and all that stuff, but in elementary school, it was a really big deal for me. I mean, something I struggle with. It was “The Test.” Maybe you didn’t struggle with those things, but man, I struggled with the test like crazy. My mom had a master’s in English, so she was a good teacher and she would teach me really good. But, for whatever reason, and I can’t explain to you why, when I would get to school and the piece of paper would go on my desk, it was like everything that I had ever studied completely disappeared. It was like it just was gone. And I’m looking and going, “I’ve never seen these words before. Are those numbers? What do we do?”

So, what I did was when I didn’t know the answer, I just came up with a really creative answer because I felt like at least putting something down was better than not putting something at all. I realized there’s still Chip Bennett’s out there today that give those creative answers because we have here, you know, to change centimeters to meters, you take out “centi.” Right? That’s what you do. That was me. I did that. I mean, that’s a great answer. It should be 100%. Or what ended in 1896? 1895. For sure. And I think this is actually one of my tests because I can see it. Where was the Declaration of Independence signed? At the bottom.

That’s the way I did my tests. God said, “You need to be a pastor.” So, there you go. Anyway, the beautiful thing about tests, though, when they’re in school, is it’s about what you know and how well you can assimilate all that information. Thank God that He’s not like that. When God comes to us and there’s a moment there of, we’ll call it, loosely, a test, what He’s looking for is for us to trust Him. He’s looking for relationship. He’s not looking for how much we know. He’s looking for us.

What I want to do is I want to take a passage out of Genesis 15. We’re going to look at it. We’re going to look at several verses and then we’ll get real practical at the end. But, to set it up, I think it’s important because one of the things that I try my best to do as your pastor is to give you some really good, biblical foundations so when you’re reading the Bible at home, you have some really good context and ability to see what’s going on. Well, this passage that we’re going to deal with in Genesis 15 deals with a man named Abram. Now, you probably know him by Abraham. Later on, his name is Abraham, but it’s Abram. I think that we need to go back all the way to Genesis 1 and sort of just do a real quick summary up to Genesis 15 so that we’re sort of aware of what’s going on. I really believe, with all of my heart — and I know this because of the last two services — that this is going to be something that many of you in here are going to have a life moment today. I’m just telling you that this is one of those things.

In fact, I was telling somebody right before I came out here, “There’s not a time I come in here, any time at all, that I’m not preaching the Bible and preaching Jesus. There’s never, ever, ever a moment that I don’t do that. But then there’s some times that I know that, man, this is a little bit different and unique.” This is one of those. You’re going to see. This passage is beautiful and the applications at the end are going to be really hitting home. So, that being said, before we get to Genesis 15, we need to understand a little bit about Genesis. You may not know this, and that’s okay if you don’t know this, but it’s something that now, when you learn it, you’ll go, “Oh, that’s really cool.”

Genesis 1-11 is a literary unit. They go together. They tie together. Genesis 12 starts something new. In Genesis 1-11, what we have is we have the creation of the world in Genesis 1-2 where everything is good and God has humanity living in His place, which is called “Eden.” In Eden, everything that they have is needed. They don’t have to fight for anything. They have no fears. They have none of that stuff. They’re there. Well, in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve fall and sin is introduced into the world, they are actually evicted from this place that they were living with God, and now they’re out into the world. They have children. Cain and Abel are their first children. Cain kills Abel. Then what we get is we get where this is all going because they’ve been in Eden and now Cain has killed Abel and the first thing that he does is he goes and plants a city.

In this city, that’s where they want security. So, they figure if they can build some walls and some stuff, then they can be secure. If they’ve got fears, they can be there. If they need plants to be grown, they can grow together. So, what they’re doing is all the things that God had ultimately provided them, now they’re trying to figure out a way to do on their own in their city, completely contrary from what God wants. I could preach a whole sermon on how our cities and Christianity do not mix. They’re not intended to be that way even though we sort of intuit that. But Cain built a city. Well, if you continue to read in Genesis, you’ll read that they continue to move east of Eden. Although that’s also true, it’s also a literary cue that they’re moving further and further and further away from God. It’s so bad that in Genesis 6, God destroys the world with a flood. It starts again and what do they start doing? Well, they start founding cities again.

So, in Genesis 11, it’s not by coincidence that we have this city, Babel, where not only are they building cities, but they’re trying to build towers up to God. In other words, they’ve got this thing so messed up, humanity is so messed up that they think that they’re doing “here” on this thing. Everything is about “here,” which is why Genesis 12 is so important to Genesis 1-11 because, in Genesis 12, God calls Abram to leave his city and take a journey. Now, if we didn’t have Hebrews 11, we wouldn’t fully understand that, but Hebrews 11 says that Abraham was looking for the heavenly city. He was on a journey looking for that which is really the city where his heart should be, whose builder and maker is God, not here.

So, he’s a wanderer. He’s wandering with a tent and he’s traveling because he’s looking for something other than what this world can provide for him. God says, “I want you to leave your city. I don’t want you to take anybody with you.” He takes Lot with him. I always joke and say, “When God asks us to go, sometimes we take a Lot along with us, too.” Right? So, he leaves and we see this pattern of Abram where he sort of trusts God sometimes, but then he doesn’t trust God. But no matter what he does, God is still blessing him. I mean, he comes out of Egypt after lying and not trust God. And the promised land, he comes out and God prospers him. He’s got all kinds of stuff.

In Genesis 14, he’s a military victor. In the Ancient Near East, having a lot of stuff, a lot of cattle, a lot of livestock, a lot of money, a lot of gold and being a military conqueror, you were about as high on the chain as you could possibly be. And then, in Genesis 14, at the very end, he’s at where Jerusalem is at. When you read it carefully, he’s right there where Gehenna and Hinnom come together. And a guy named Melchizedek, the priest of Salem, comes out and it’s crazy. But in Genesis 14, he serves him bread and wine. This is a Christological thing. Abraham gives him 10% of his spoils, which is interesting because there’s giving before the law. Just a note there. Just a little note. I’m not trying to say anything at all. You can just take that for what it is, but just a little note that just popped into my head. We must be in a building fund.

So, anyway — I’m joking. I’m joking. Have fun with me. So, we’ve got this moment here and then we go into Genesis 15. And the writer — it’s the way the Bible’s written because it’s really written to engage you and me — says, “After these things,” because you should be thinking, when you’re reading this, “Okay. After these things. So, he’s conquered. He’s got all kinds of stuff. He’s a military guy. Maybe he’s going to found a city. Maybe that’s what he’s going to do after these things.”

Well, what happens? It says, “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision.”

So, here’s the word of the Lord that comes to Abram. Now, I love this because God’s Word, it’s so cool. I don’t have time to develop all this, but it’s so cool because it’s like God knows when He says to Abram what He’s going to say, He knows that it’s going to elicit certain things. God gets done what God gets done without having to coerce anybody, but He still gets it done. It’s just awesome how God works because His Word pierces and it gets into the real nooks and crannies of our lives.

So, “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’”

Well, we’re not really told that Abram has these great fears. Well, God knows that he does. God knows that there’s something that’s on his heart. He’s probing that. He says, “Hey, you know what? I’ve got your back, man. I’m going to give you so much more.”

Now, for most of us, if God came to us and said, “Hey, I’m going to dump it on you,” you’d be like, “Let it rain, baby. I’ll take it all. I’ll take everything that you’ve got.” He says, “Abram, I’m going to give you a great reward.” Abram’s response is telling. It also explains what this is. Here’s what he says:

“‘O Lord, God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’”

What he’s saying is this: “God, You could give me everything. I mean, I could have it all, but I don’t have anybody to give it to in legacy.”

I’m not going to preach on this. But man, if the Church could get a vision for the things that we have to steward it into the next generation, we would be really well done if we would think those ways. But we typically don’t. We’d be like, “Hey, make it rain. I want it all.” But he says, “I don’t have a child.” He’s just probed that fear. He said, “I’m going to give you a bunch of stuff,” and he goes, “What are you going to give me? I don’t have anybody to give it to. I’m childless. I’ve got Eliezer of Damascus. I mean, he’s one of my servants and I can give it to him, but it’s not the same thing. I’m not going to have legacy. I’m not going to have more and more and more to give into future generations at all.”

And in case God doesn’t understand what Abram’s saying, Abram tells Him again. He’s like, “God, maybe You’re not quite hearing what’s coming off my lips, so I’m going to say it again because You might not quite understand. It’s great that You want to give me all these things, but I’m childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus.”

And Abram said, “‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.’”

“I don’t have anybody. I have Eliezer of Damascus, so he’s going to be the one who gets it. God, just in case You don’t understand, I have no child. None. Zero. That’s what’s more important to me. Not what You’re giving to me. I want to be able to give into the next generation. I want to have a kid that I can give to and they can give to. I want to know that what I did mattered. If it’s all just here and now, it’s no good. I want to have legacy in my life.”

And so, the word of the Lord comes to him again and says, “‘This man shall not be your heir.’”

“Eliezer of Damascus is not going to be your heir.”

“‘Your very own son shall be your heir.’”

You can imagine if you’re Abram, you’re thinking, “Man, I’m old. Sarah’s old. Ain’t no way in the world.”

And this is constantly in his mind even though he’s successful, even though he’s at the height of everything. He’s got this thing. “I don’t have anybody to give this to.” God says to him, “Hey, listen, I’m going to elicit that out of you. I’m going to give you a bunch of stuff. Fear not.”

“Well, but I don’t have a kid.”

“Great. Now we can deal with this. Now I can work with this. You’re going to have a son. That’s what you’re going to have, Abram. You’re going to have a son.”

“And he brought him outside...”

He’s in his tent. He’s hanging out in his tent. God says, “Hey, listen, I need you to come out of your tent for a minute. I need you to come out. I know it’s sort of comfortable in there. I know it’s not Lakewood Ranch in an Arthur Rutenberg home, but the bottom line is that it’s your tent. You’re sort of comfortable there, but I need you to come out of your tent. Come on out here. Abram, what I want you to do is I want you to look up towards heaven now. I want you to look up and I want you to number the stars, if you’re able to number them. I mean, Abram, can you count the stars?”

“Yeah. I can count.”

“Can you number them all?”

“No way.”

“Okay. But I want you to look. I know what you think. I know what you feel, that you’re never going to have a kid. But I want you to look up there. I want you to look because I just told you you’re going to have a kid, but I want you to look up there for a minute because if you can number the stars, number them because you can’t number them.”

“‘So shall your offspring be.’”

“Abram, you’re not just going to have a kid. You’re going to have so many offspring that you can’t even number them. That’s what’s going to happen for you.”

And in that moment where everything in his life says there’s no way that could ever happen, God says, “Look up at the stars and count them because that’s how many your offspring are going to be.”

And then we’re told: “He believed the Lord,” — He believed Him. In the face of everything that was contrary, he believed Him — “and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

That’s huge because what he’s saying is that we’ve just read how messed up people are and all the things Abram has would be the height of everything that he believes. That in the moment of believing God, that’s when everything is counted as righteousness. Not when he gets the kid, not when he gets the reward, but when he trusts God. In that moment of trusting God, everything is counted as right. All things are good.

So, let’s take that because now we’re going to go back in and we’re going to really pull out of this passage some things that are really going to speak to you and me. Normally, this is called “take-homes” or “practical applications,” but this is Back to School. So, what we’re going to do for this one is we’re going to learn some vocabulary phrases. Okay? A lot of times, people are taking pictures with their phones. You’re welcome to do that because people say, “You talk so fast and I can’t write it down as fast.” Well, you can take pictures. Last night, I even stopped. Somebody was on the front row and I said, “Hold on. Get your phone out. Take it. There you go. You’re good.”

So, these are some vocabulary phrases that we want to learn because they will change your lives and they’re coming from this passage.

The first one is a faith moment. I want to tell you what a faith moment is because some of you all are here today, and I’m going to tell you what a faith moment is and you’re going to go, “That’s where I’m at right now. You’re reading my mail right now. This is exactly where I’m at.”

Let me tell you what a faith moment is. We have Abram that says, “You’ve given me no offspring.” In other words, “God, let’s call what this is here. I’m old. Sarah’s old. You never gave me an offspring. You can give me everything, but I ain’t got anybody to give it to.”

The definition of a faith moment — this is the definition of a faith moment — is where God will give you and me facts that seemingly contradict His Word to create an opportunity for us to trust Him. See, the only thing that pleases God is faith. That’s what pleases God — faith. And so, God will create circumstances in your life where everything in your life says, “There’s no way,” even though God said, “This is the way.” Because it’s the only place that God can get you and me in a position to have faith in Him. See, it’s the age old thing. It’s the lack versus provision, it’s the impossible odds versus the possible God, it’s the barrenness versus the child. See, what’ll happen is God will put a faith moment in your life, and we don’t like them. We don’t want a faith moment. We want a reality moment. We want to be able to manage everything and go, “Thank You, God. I’ve got everything I need. I’ll give You praise and glory, but the last thing I want to do is trust You when everything around me is saying this is not going to happen.”

God says, “No, no. That’s the place you need to be because that’s a place where you can have faith, and that’s what pleases me. See, you trust me when everything says you have lack.”

Some of you all are in here today and you’re going, “Man, if I could ever just get back to where I was with the Lord at one point in my life. This marriage thing I’m in is terrible. My finances are messed up. Physically, I’m wrong. Everything about me, this area in my life, is absolutely a lack.”

You’re there because God says, “This is the place that I want you to be. It’s a faith moment. This is the opportunity for you to trust me. When everything around you says that it can’t happen, that’s when I’m the possible God.”

That’s a faith moment. Some of you are there right now. This is really important, though, because the faith moment, when it happens, the next thing is there needs to be what we call “leaving your tent.” Okay? It says here, “And he brought him outside.” See, listen to me, leaving your tent is when the perspective we need will only come when we move from where we currently are. Listen to this. See? He’s in his tent going, “No kid. Ain’t going to happen. I’m old. Sarah’s old. Ain’t going to happen.”

He says, “No, no. You need to come out here because where you’re at right here, you’re filling your mind with all kinds of stuff, all kinds of doubt, all kinds of stuff. I need you to move from here to out here is what I need you to do.”

Listen, take this home. This is a moment right here. Listen: The security of where we are is oftentimes more important to us than the stars God has for us to see. “I’m going to stay in my tent. I don’t like my tent, but my tent’s what I know. The last thing that I want to do is get outside of that tent because at least the tent is what I know.”

God says, “No, no, no. Listen, I’ve got stars for you to see. I’ve got promises for your life. You’ve got to get out of that tent. You’ve got to come outside so that you can see something different than what you’re seeing. Your perspective can change. The way you’re looking at reality can change.”

For many of us, who know what that tent is? That tent could be a lot of things. That tent could be your job. “Oh, yeah. But I’m...”

God says, “No. I want you to come out from there, man. I want you to see what I can do. This is not what I’ve called you to do. This is not the existence that I’ve had for you that you’re bound to this thing. I’ve got more for you.”

Maybe it’s a relationship or relationships of people that are pulling you out, pulling you back or keeping you from stuff and you’ve got to leave that tent. And you go, “I don’t want to leave that tent because this is what I know. I know it’s probably not as good as what it is, but I just don’t want to leave. I don’t want to walk outside.”

God says, “You’ve got to walk outside because I have some stars to show you.”

Finances. I won’t spend a whole lot of time on that. I’ll just leave that where that’s at. Pride. Let me meddle here for a minute. I’ll give you an example of pride, how it can hold you back. Your tent. Let’s just talk about worship for a second. “That’s great. Death was arrested and my life began. Yeah because I don’t want my wife or my kids — or I think my boss comes to one of the services, but it’s sort of dark in here. The last thing I want to have him see is me going, ‘Death was arrested...’”

But it’s funny because pride will hold you back from a lot of things in life. Religion? Whew. Man, that one will kill you. Again, I’m just going to tell you in all the love of my heart, you cannot run the hamster wheel good enough to get God to love you. You just can’t. All the dos and the don’ts, and the dos and the don’ts will do nothing but kill you. You cannot run the hill. That’s why Jesus did what we couldn’t do. Fear. Fear’s a tent. See, the tent’s the boat. Eleven of them didn’t get out of the boat. One did. Secure in the boat. Secure in the tent. It’s what we know.

But see, if a faith moment happens where you go, “There’s no way in the world — no way — that this can be possible,” there’s a moment where you also have to leave your tent. You have to get outside of that thing that’s keeping you from seeing the stars and the promises of God that God has for you.

And the third vocabulary phrase is a God moment. See, when a faith moment arises and we’re able to get out of our tent and see the stars and see the promises that God has for us, then there’s a God moment because it says he believed the Lord and God said, “You’re righteous.” A God moment is when we finally accept that God can and will shape our future according to His Word. It doesn’t take doing something and immediately getting something, or saying something and being okay or whatever — or giving out of abundance. It’s when you’re in a moment where there’s nothing you can do — it is impossible. “My marriage is broken. My finances are broken. My relationship with my mom or dad is broken. My relationship with my children are broken.” It is a faith moment — “I cannot do. I lack here. I am barren here.” — that says, “I’ve got to get outside of that thinking that’s going on in my head that this is impossible because I serve a possible God, and God has said, in His Word, that He will do certain things and He’s brought me to this moment because the one thing that He wants for me is for me to trust Him.”

So, here’s the question that we should ask: Can we abandon reading reality through empirical verification? In other words, everything that we see. “I can control this. I can manage this. I can touch it. I can manage it. I’ve got everything here.” Can we abandon that and, instead, believe that God can act between our faith moment where it’s impossible and His promise? That, in other words, when I trust God, I’m setting into motion the things that cannot be as if they were. I’m believing that God can do. And listen, it’s not in the reward, it’s not in the fulfillment of the promise where everything is alright, it’s in the moment that you trust God that everything is alright.

See, that keeps it from being manipulation because people will say, “Well, I’m going to use faith because if I use faith then what’ll happen is God will do.”

No, no. That’s called manipulation. That’s not faith. Faith says, “I trust God. I believe Him and that’s it.” And if you trust God, He will do what He says He will do. He will, every time, in spades.

Walter Brueggemann, great Old Testament scholar, realizes that what we have here in Genesis is a new genesis. We have a new start for humanity. Humanity’s broken, building cities, doing all of this stuff, but Abram finds the new creation. He finds the new moment in believing in God. He writes, “The new pilgrimage of Abraham is not grounded in the old flesh of Sarah, nor the tired bones of Abraham, but in the disclosing Word of God.”

What has God said over you? What has God said about you? What has God said to you? He says, “Listen, this is what I want from you: I want you to trust me. I’m not asking you to go run hard. I’m not asking you to run a mountain. If you trust me, there’ll be things that you do, but it’s not the doing. It’s the trusting. It’s the believing.”

And see, here’s what I know: Not every weekend that I come in here is there a moment where God is stirring the waters like this weekend. I’ll preach you the Bible, I’ll tell you about Jesus, I’ll get as excited as I can about those things, I’ll do my best to equip you, but not every Sunday, every weekend that we come in here, is there going to be a moment where you get to lay some things down, where you get to really have a moment with God. This is one of those moments. Some of you all are in a faith moment right now and you’re not here by accident. You’re not here because you just showed up. You’re here because from the foundation of the world, your heavenly Father knew that you would be here today and He is taking His Word and He’s hitting you right now, saying, “Listen, it’s impossible, but it’s not with me. I can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that you could ever ask or think.”

Maybe it’s your marriage. Maybe it’s your kids. Maybe it’s whatever. But you’re looking at it right now going, “There’s no way. There’s no way.” And you’re in that tent. God’s saying, “I brought you here. Get out of your tent. Let this be a God moment for you today.”

What I’m going to ask you to do is this. I’m not going to embarrass anybody. I’m not going to ask you to get up. I’m not going to ask you to raise your hand. None of that. I’m going to ask you to bow your heads and make your seat your altar, to have a moment with the Lord right now. You’re in a faith moment and you have no answers. Are you going to get out of your tent today and see the stars that God has for you, the promises that He’s spoken over you that are always even far better than what you thought? You were just looking for a son and He goes, “I’ve got offspring you can’t even number.”

Can you have that moment with God right now and say, “God, I trust You? I believe in You. Even though I can’t see it, even though I can’t feel it, even though it seems so incredible, the odds are stacked against me, God, I believe that You are the God of the possible in my life.”

For some of you all, that would be stepping out for the first time and saying, “God, I’m turning over my life to You. I’ve been trying to do life my way, but I’m going to turn it over to You today. I’m done, I’m done, I’m done. I believe Jesus died on the cross. I believe He rose again on the third day. I want to be in.”

That’s your faith moment today. For some of you, though, it’s more than that. It’s a business. It’s a relationship. It’s children. It’s a job. It’s physical things. It’s financial things. It’s social things. It’s loneliness. It’s depression. It’s anxiety. Whatever it is, you’re in a moment where there’s no way that this can be solved, and God says, “Get out of your tent. Look at the stars that I have for you, child. Just put your trust in me and watch what I can do.”

Father, I pray right now in Jesus’ name for everyone here. I believe that the name of Jesus is powerful. I speak the name of Jesus over everyone here. It breaks the chains of fear. It breaks the chains of sickness. It breaks the chains of disease. It breaks the chains of poverty. It breaks chains. Lord, I’m asking You right now, in Jesus’ name, Lord, that there would be a faith moment here for many people that would end up with a leave-a-tent moment into a God moment today, that there would be a God moment for people here today as they seek You right there at their altar, at their chair. Lord, let today be a day that they look back on and realize, “I left my tent and I saw the stars, and I believe the Lord and He did something incredible. Everything was right in that moment.”

Lord, let that be a reality for Your Church here. Lord, as we walk out of here today, I pray that You would continue to lead, guide and direct us in everything that we do, I pray that You’d bring us back safely to when we meet again, and I pray, Lord, that You would continue to help us be the church that you have called us to be. Lord, that is the church that reaches the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. We love You, we praise You and we honor You. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”

Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.

Chris Pedro